MANILA, Philippines -- Even with Alyssa Valdez set to miss a significant amount of time due to injury, the expectations are as high as ever for the Creamline Cool Smashers in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference.
This is the sentiment of Valdez herself, who believes that her absence will not prevent pundits and fans from expecting the Cool Smashers to still compete at a high level in the upcoming tournament.
"I think the expectation will always be higher," said Valdez during Saturday's press conference at the Discovery Suites Manila in Ortigas.
The Cool Smashers are the reigning champions of the conference but will have to defend their crown without Valdez, who is still recovering from a right knee injury that she sustained in the Reinforced Conference last December.
There is no timetable yet for Valdez's return, though the multiple-time Most Valuable Player assured that she is making good progress. With her at the sidelines, more is expected from the likes of Jema Galanza and Tots Carlos, with Jia de Guzman taking a bigger leadership role.
"Ever since last year, when I had dengue, everyone stepped up," Valdez pointed out. "I'm very much confident with this team, na talagang magbibigay sila ng magandang laban this coming conference."
Valdez was forced to miss Creamline's stints in the 2022 AVC Cup for Women and the 2022 ASEAN Grand Prix after contracting dengue ahead of the competitions.
She went on to return for the Cool Smashers' campaign in the Reinforced Conference, where they finished in third place.
The All-Filipino Conference starts on February 4, with Creamline opening their title defense against the PetroGazz Angels at the Araneta Coliseum.